Opinion Real Lives

Shining a light on disability accessibility in the sector

Lorna Badrick, COO of TLC Care

Lorna Badrick, COO of TLC Care talks about how paying attention to hidden disabilities has paid huge dividends attributed to the company’s phenomenal team member retention rate and high engagement levels.

Long before the pandemic we adopted the guiding principles of Purple, namely to make disability accessible. We recognised that not all disability is physical and that we needed to have our own conversation about how we address accessibility. We opened the topic up for discussion and it became very clear mental health support was in great need.”

Taking on-board the Purple principle, TLC Care approached a mental health first aider accredited by Mental Health First Aid England. The company successfully trained 20 of its team members in to mental health first aiders in what become the first step in recognising that mental health support required just as much attention as physical health.

Lorna states: “In our sector we know it can be very physical but all too often people do not focus on the mental impact it can have on our valued team members. In a business where you are caring for the very vulnerable, the poorly and elderly, it is inevitable to feel the emotional stress and ultimate loss when losing those who have become our friends. You don’t finish your shift and forget about whom you have left behind, the human and personal connection is too deep. This is why we developed our peer-to-peer support service to recognise and provide space for mental health as a priority.”

Turning a stigma into a normal topic of conversation, the company started with a weekly email sharing a paragraph of words about wellness and mindfulness. Bereavement awareness sessions quickly followed, which then developed into a more holistic programme of wellness guidance and advice throughout the whole group.

Now the company maintains a peer-to-peer support programme through mental health first aiders and engagement champions, even Lorna herself is a mental health first aider and the company ambassador for mental health.

Bi-monthly mental health week is now a calendar highlight at TLC Care with customers also benefitting. Featuring meditation classes, relaxation techniques, stress awareness, to healthy diet and nutritional guidance provided by the company’s chefs, guidance on coping strategies and the opportunity to feel good through discussion is now a way of life at TLC Care.

“We cannot underestimate the positive impact this has had on our business. At a time when the sector is facing huge recruitment and retention challenges, our approach has minimised the impact for us.”

During the pandemic TLC Care were awarded Investors in People Platinum, a feat for most but a huge achievement during the pandemic and a clear validation of their support for people. It doesn’t stop there, the company is currently embarking on the Investors in People we invest in wellbeing accreditation and are in the process of developing a company intranet specifically for mental health support and signposting. Next year Lorna herself will train to be a Mental Health First Aid Instructor to enable the company to have a mental health first aider in every department of all TLC care homes.

The positive impact is clear to see. For a company whose values are three simple words: Truth, Love and Compassion, it seems fitting that happier team members means a happy company, with customers and their families the main beneficiaries of such an open and happy company culture.

Mike Adams CEO Purple says: “You can start to recognise that you may know more people than you think who have a disability, which is why it’s so important to recognise how you can adapt to be more accessible. We applaud TLC Care for their amazing work and hope many others will follow in their footsteps.

To get involved in Purple Tuesday visit www.purpletuesday.org.uk

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